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Why does my pupil not respond?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by tewingveale, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. Dear Tom

    I teach the equivalent of Year 2 in an international school in Spain. I have a 6 year-old Scandinavian boy in my class who seems to need much help in coming out of his shell both socially and academically.

    He very rarely speaks, shows no facial emotions, does not remember instructions for activities so sits and does nothing throughout the lesson. When he does speak, each WORD is pronounced as if a question. His English skills (reading, spelling, verbal comprehension) meet the expectations of our school so I am not so much concerned about academic ability.

    Physically he is very small and thin, though healthy. He constantly swings on his seat, often dangerously. His mother showed me a photo of him watching TV with both legs wrapped behind his head - his favourite sitting position!

    In whole-class discussions I try to involve him (particularly to show him that I can see when he is not paying attention). I ask easy questions but he still does not respond. On a one-to-one he would have no problem answering these questions.

    His previous teacher had similar problems. She allowed him to wander the classroom as sitting still was too difficult for him. I have decided against this approach. He faces classroom consequences quite regularly for not making efforts in his work, but he is never disrespectful or rude to me or the other children. The other children are not disrespectful to him either. They know there is something 'different'.

    I'm not sure if I am posting this in the right section, but I do consider his behaviour as very anti-social and a great hindrance to him fulfilling his potential. Perhaps this sounds like a familiar personality-type to you? Or perhaps you can recommend a resource that would help me work out the best way to approach someone like this.

    Many thanks for your time
  2. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Very tough. It sounds like this child has some form of undiagnosed special need- is there any provision in your school to have him tested in some way? That way you may be able to access extra provision, depending on the support climate.

    That said, I would be interested to hear how he does with mainstream behaviour modification, i.e. sanctions and rewards.

    But first I would have a 1-2-1 talk with him, with his parent(s) present: what;s his take on this? Why doesn't he speak when spoken to? Is he shy? Is he bullied by others? He may have a legitimate reason to be quiet..or he may not, but you should identify it.

    I would keep him behind after school every day to complete work that you know he can complete. Get the family's support before you do, so that there are no hitches or snags. After a week of that, all but the toughest kids will buckle, and start picking up the effort in classes.

    But also praise him for doing the right thing, every time he does.

    Good luck

  3. Thank you very much Tom for your helpful reply, and apologies for taking so long to get back to you.

    This pupil will be screened by our learning support department soon. They have been dealing with him on a weekly basis since the beginning of the school year but have now decided that screening is necessary.

    With regards to how he responds to mainstream behaviour modification, it depends on his mood (or how tired he seems). He will never be outright disrespectful but is often non-responsive, even in facial expressions. Losing a reward doesn't seem to be the end of the world for him.

    I must say, I do like your idea about keeping him in after school to complete work. It would seem that keeping him in at break-times is often welcome (a sign that all is not well socially, but I still can't find evidence of bullying) so perhaps after-school catch-up would give the necessary shock treatment.

    Since I first sent you my message, he has had a very good week and a half in school. We put a timer on the whiteboard to see how long he could sit without swinging on his chair. This has been successful - he doesn't just stare at the clock, he works. There have been extra rewards for this progress and his demeanour has been much more positive. However, this kind of 'special treatment' cannot become a regular feature, for his own good as well as the rest of the class. So it's good to have your longer-term suggestions on board.

    Thanks once again
  4. shamsh

    shamsh Occasional commenter

    Try reading The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime and see if it rings any bells. Asperger's sounds like a possibility.

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